Keeping toddlers entertained, learning, and wearing off a bit of excess energy does require the use of technology-fueled games or spending a lot of money.
Toddlers are naturally inquisitive and love to investigate new sights, smells, sounds, textures, and figure out how things work. Grabbing a few scrap items from around the house and from the backyard can provide the basis for hours of family fun.
DIY Activities to Entertain Toddlers
Box Ball Sorting Colors Game
Teach or reinforce the color identification skills you have been teaching the toddler in your life with a bit of quickie-crafting fun and some colored plastic or rubber balls.
- Colored balls – plastic ball pit spheres work great
- Paint or markers
- Cardboard box
- Scissors or utility knife
- Turn the cardboard box upside down and place a ball on top of the cardboard box.
- Trace around it with a marker.
- Cut along your tracing line to make a hole large enough for the ball to fit through.
- Repeat step 3 until you have a hole cut for each ball color you will be using.
- Paint or use markers, to add color ring around each ball opening.
- Give the toddler the colored balls and help them learn their colors and enhance their hand and eye coordination while playing the fun sorting game.
Bringing Nature Indoors
Go exploring outdoors as the seasons change to search for leaves, twigs, and bark. Toddlers will enjoy the colors and textures they experience during the mini-scavenger hunt – and learn about their environment, in the process.
- Poster board or wax paper
- Nature materials
- Scotch tape
- Bucket, bowl, or sack
- Draw a simple tree onto the piece of poster board or wax paper
- Hang the piece of paper on a window or glass door.
- Give the toddler a sack, bucket, or bowl and take a walk outside to collect the nature materials. Collect enough leaves to fill all the simple branches you drew onto the tree. You can also collect twigs, bark, and grass to glue onto and around the tree as well.
- Come back inside and help the toddler put glue onto each natural material before he or she decides where it belongs on the drawing.
- To simplify this activity, you can draw a huge leaf outline on a piece of paper and allow the toddler to crumble all the leaves found in the backyard. Once back inside, place glue all around the inside of the leaf outline and allow the toddler to put their leaf crumbles inside the drawing that will be hung up and displayed after it has dried thoroughly.
This activity will require the use of simple power tools and perhaps a few purchases from your local dollar store, but will surely keep a little one busy and engaged for hours on end.
- Scrap piece of plywood or particle board
- Power drill or screwdriver
- Latches, sliding locks, and/or chain locks
- Battery powered touch light
- Toilet paper holder and empty toilet paper roll or other items that can fit and swing freely from the holder, like cheap kid-sized plastic bracelets.
- Swiveling caster wheels
- Paint or wood stain
- Small aluminum cookie sheet and magnets
- Any combination of movable items that can be attached to a board, like a hinge screwed onto a piece of wood that you painted in a colorful patterns or attached a textured piece of material to, perhaps with a handle included as well and a colorful photo or other eye-catching item affixed to the inside of the door so a surprise is revealed when it is opened. A rope affixed to the board via drilled holes, with colorful wood balls to slide about, is another great option.
- Sand the board so it is smooth to deter the possibility of the toddler getting a splinter.
- Paint or stain the board.
- Once the paint or stain dries, simply attach each chosen latch, lock, touch light, swiveling caster, and other chosen items so they all fit onto the board. Make sure to position them far enough apart that each functions properly and little fingers will not get pinched during use.
- Prop the board against a wall, or screw it into place, and allow the toddler in your life to explore the board and figure out all of the exciting new wonders it possesses.
All of these DIY activities for toddlers can quickly and easily be adapted as used as part of a preschool science and math curriculum or as fun learning activities during group play dates. Each child could be given their own set of materials to work with or larger versions of each DIY activity be created so the toddlers can work with one another as they explore and discover.